* Tonight's show in Bristol kicked off with Dewey Barnes vs Shawn Schultz. He was from Knoxville, which I thought was going to get the crowd behind him. The crowd was hyped for Barnes, who was selling merchandise beforehand. He was even announced as "from the merchandise stand, Dewey Barnes." The crowd went crazy. Barnes won with a roll up.
* Next was Austin Aries vs Chris Sabin for the X Division title. Aries got the crowd hot, and Sabin got some really good heat. He seemed more relaxed and comfortable in his role than on TV. It was easily the most action packed match of the night. Sabin hit Aries with some sort of object and got the win. Aries got his revenge right after the match when he hit Aries with a stunner type move.
* Up next was Gail Kim defending the Knockouts title against Madison Rayne. I'm not a Madison fan, but it was pretty impressive. Their hits looked more impactful than the men, they were rough and rowdy. Gail Kim had no shame in jawing with a fan at ringside and getting right in his face. Gail got the pin on Madison by using the ropes.
* TNA Tag Team Champions The Bro Manns defending the titles against James Storm & Gunner. Mostly comedy. Bro Manns were on their game. They kept climbing the ropes and posing to get a reaction, only to get booed. Storm went up and got a great reaction. Then Earl Hebner went up and got the biggest reaction. They announced a little later that Earl had just refereed his 100,000th match. Then they did autograph signings with him at intermission. But back to the match, it was lots of the ref hiding Gunner back while Bro Manns double teamed Storm. Bro Manns got into it with each other a couple of times. Storm messed up Robbie E's hair and the crowd loved that. Bro Manns of course got the dirty win with a double team move on Gunner after spitting water in his eyes. No hint of friction between Gunner & Storm.
* Bobby Roode came out and got on the mic. He had no opponent, so he issued an open challenge. A guy at ringside who had ripped his shirt open really wanted a piece of him, but that didn't happen. Instead, Abyss' music hit to another big reaction. Abyss had some really good offense to start. Roode got the upper hand a couple of times. He picked Abyss up on his shoulders once, which was really impressive. Abyss choked slammed Roode & then hit him with the black hole slam for the win.
I saw a lot of Sting merchandise go out during the intermission. At least 10 kids in the audience with Sting masks. And I saw several of his action figures in bands of passing fans, as well as Kurt Angle's action figure.
* After intermission was the co-main event with TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus vs Sting. Sting got a massive reaction. It was a big deal for him to be there and he was all anyone was talking about. He was wearing the original crow paint and he looked a lot leaner than in recent appearances. He looked really good. Magnus just about got booed out of the building, so clearly his heel turn is getting some immediate reactions. The match was very back and forth. No one had the upper hand very long. Both guys took some hard shots and Magnus had some missed steps with his timing, but no one cared. Everyone kept screaming for the Stinger Splash, and went crazy when he hit it. Brian Hebner got knocked down and couldn't count to 3 and Magnus rolled up Sting for the win. It didn't make a difference to anyone that Sting lost. He was the only wrestler anyone stood up and stayed standing for. He did what Sting always does, which is command an audience without even trying.
* Main Event: Bully Ray vs Samoa Joe in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Bully attacked Joe from behind and hit him with the chain, then forced Earl to do the 3 count. The next fall began and Joe was still laid out. Bully was arguing with Earl and Joe managed to roll him up for the pin. Finally they actually started wrestling. Bully got the crowd crazy, he was the heel that we all loved. No sign of the dark character they're doing on television. He was yelling at Ricky Morton, who was over in the corner by the entrance. Joe got the upper hand & pretty much kept it and won by making Bully tap to the sleeper.
It was a really good night, very loose and fun. Maybe a crowd of 300 or so, not jam packed. But trust me, we were making some noise. It was cool to see how the crowd was reacting to certain people after last night. This was my 3rd TNA show, first house. And I think it was my favorite.
You can check out a photo from the event below: